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Tron 2.0 Review
publisher: Buena Vista Games
PIII 500, 256MB RAM, 32MB Video Card, 2.4GB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Aug 23, 03 (released)
|» All About Tron 2.0 on ActionTrip|
I think my eyes have turned into fluorescent green jelly after this game. I've been playing it so much I'm beginning to experience weird hallucinations. (If you're an anti-gaming lobbyist, please disregard this statement; our editor hasn't eaten in a long while due to the fact that his paycheck is several months late - 2Lions) Just imagine seeing scripts and corrupted files and programs flying around everywhere - babes suddenly turn into square-shaped figures, while men take on the shape of huge ICP drones that roam around the world looking for ways to delete you. This is how you'd see the world and everything around you, if you've played Buena Vista Interactive's latest FPS TRON 2.0 as long as I have.
Okay, so you have a bigger gun...
Here, let me help you with that. I insist.
The basic sci-fi story of Tron, the movie, was a most original idea in its time (back in 1982, that is). Even today it conveys a rather unique and chilling fictional representation of the inner-computer world. The TRON 2.0 plot doesn't tie into the story of the movie, but it does stay true to its ambiance, as well as the characters that dwell in the digital world; credits should immediately go out to the team of artists and writers for doing a swell job on recreating the whole concept and bringing it successfully into a PC game.
The storyline in TRON 2.0 follows the life of one Jet, son of Alan Bradley - who's responsible for creating the Tron program and the technology that allows humans to be digitized directly into the world of the computer. Trying to find out why his father mysteriously disappeared, Jet unexpectedly gets transported into the computer against his will. In the meantime, this powerful technology caught the attention of Future Control Industries (fCon), a wealthy and influential conglomerate determined to take over Alan's company. From here on, the plot becomes more exciting, taking players through various unexpected twists. The characterization is brilliant, largely thanks to professional voicing of actors Bruce Boxleitner (voice of Alan Bradley), Cindy Morgan (Ma3a), Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (Mercury), and others.
Gamers who are used to average stories being told in contemporary FPS's might find the in-game ambiance a tad repelling. Quite frankly, if you are such a gamer, maybe you should consider if you're ready to begin playing TRON 2.0. But, you should also know that the game makes a nice change from the usual dose of executing Nazi villains, VC soldiers, and eight-legged mutants.
There's a number of things you must take into account before you get into the game. To begin with, this is not an ordinary action game. Many things were altered so as to stay true to the Tron universe. This includes weapon usage, the laws of physics, energy consumption, confronting enemies, and solving puzzles (if you can call them "puzzles"). Each level sets a series of different tasks before you, such us eliminating corrupted programs, finding a way around a firewall, deciphering security systems, etc. Instead of looking around for keycards and doorways, you'll mostly be on the search for so-called Permissions, floating cubes that contain a code necessary to enter certain areas or unlock restricted passageways. That's all there is to it when it comes to solving those "puzzles." Don't expect much of challenge there. Those floating cubes I mentioned are used to download data, but this action will cost your character a certain amount of energy. Energy and health are two of your most important parameters. Players consume energy by using weapons and downloading diverse files (e-mails, permissions, weapon and defense upgrades, etc.). Health is, quite logically, reduced as your character sustains injuries from various enemies.
In its essence, the gameplay mechanics in TRON 2.0 revolve around all these things and the situation doesn't change much throughout the entire game. So, if you are after slice of Unreal, Doom, or Half-Life style shootouts, this game may not offer a satisfying experience. Especially when you consider certain restrictions such as not being able to jump off slightly elevated platforms - it's not impossible, but it will often results in permanent deletion (i.e. sudden death). Jumping across platforms is a frequent occurrence throughout the game, so it becomes quite irritating when your character plunges to his death after jumping down from a platform that's only a few feet high.
Follow the yellow-brick road, my son.
ICP regulars can be useful sometimes.
As mentioned before, using your weapons drains your energy very quickly, which means you must locate refills as soon as possible. Luckily energy Nodes (as well as health Nodes) were placed conveniently and can usually be found when they are needed the most. Your arsenal is filled with a number of digital weapons, some of which are good for close encounters, while others are very effective at long range. Throughout the entire game, you'll surely find yourself using the Data Disc quite often. This is a basic weapon. Using it doesn't consume energy and its solid structure can successfully block enemy discs. Next to that, you'll also be able to use more powerful items such as the Ball, the Suffusion gun, and the Mesh. The Ball is equal to your standard hand grenade; you can hurl it at enemies and watch them being "derezzed" on the spot. To make things a bit more enjoyable, players can use the Suffusion gun, which is similar to the shotgun and very useful against chubby and more serious opponents. Last but not the least, the Mesh is a triangular-shaped weapon that can fire a series of rapid shots at the enemy - it's an effective weapon, but its use drains a great deal of your energy. The good thing is that all these weapons can be upgraded with the right data, and that increases their capacity, power, and energy consumption.
Enemies often roam the worlds of TRON 2.0 in great numbers. You come up against advanced ICP programs and standard security programs, which possess specific routines for eliminating illegal programs within the system (such as you). Also, there are many systems contaminated with various corrupted programs, who all answer to an evil digital dude called Throne. My personal favorites, are the DataWraiths; who appear later on in the game. These opponents are dead serious. When they appear you better have your trigger finger ready, because they are fast, accurate, and can use stealth maneuvers in combat. All of these enemies have exhibited commendable AI patterns throughout combat. There are even a few situations in the game when some of the ICP's fight alongside you - although you won't be able to issue any orders, you can often leave them to handle menacing corrupted programs for themselves.
Altogether, there's quite a lot to do throughout the game. One good point is that your character can gain experience and, in due time, greatly improve his combat skills, energy capacity, and health. This was handled through an intuitive RPG method of distributing your hard-earned experience to the following parameters: health, energy, weapon efficiency, transfer rate, and processor. Upgrading all of these characteristics can ensure an easier passage through systems that are more complex and generally a dangerous place to hang around in (something like Six's desktop PC) (Or his fridge - 2Lions). This aspect of the gameplay doesn't bring anything revolutionary to the FPS scene, but it sure as hell makes the game more fun.
Lightcycles are another reminiscent element of the old Tron movie. They represent an integral part of both the single-player as well as the multiplayer experience. To my surprise, I found that CPU opponents are a bit too challenging, nay, make that too darn difficult for mere mortals to contend with. The basic problem is that each lightcycle operates on a grid with a strict set of geometrical paths to ride on. When you encounter, say, four opponents on the racing grid it's virtually impossible to calculate a safe path along the grid and at the same time outsmart the adversaries. In the end, this particular feature of the game that involves lightcycle races, is a bit more exciting in multiplayer mode (more on that later on in the text). But, even then it can turn into a real mess.
Utilizing a modified version of LithTech's Triton engine, the developers have worked hard to create the glowing effect that remains a distinguishing trademark of the Tron universe. This allowed for some juicy visual effects. But, since the entire game is set within the digital world, you cannot expect to witness stuff like rag-doll physics (characters will disintegrate the moment their energy is drained), standard vehicle physics, and so on. The down side to the graphics is that the engine displays somewhat week textures on some of the character models. Even so, the game looks cool, especially when you beef the resolution all the way up to 1600*1200. You will see a solid amount of reflections throughout the excellently designed levels. The brilliant artwork and cool level design convey an atmosphere that's true to the movie in every way. There's not much I can add in this respect, since, like I've stated many time before, TRON 2.0 doesn't fit into a common FPS surrounding.
The audio in the game happens to be another one of its distinguishing aspects that recalls many reminiscent moments from the movie. Music themes fit well into the digital ambiance and the sounds are of the highest quality. Character voicing was done professionally and contributes a great deal to the entire single-player experience.
The multiplayer modes available in TRON 2.0 are a nice change from your normal dose of deathmatches and CTF matches. You can play within the so-called Disc Arena, fighting against opponents in the standard FPS mode through various maps. And, you may also engage in Lightcycle races. Sadly, there aren't many features or objectives with these modes to keep your attention for long. Also, when many opponents get together in a Lightcycle race it can often be hard to think of an organized way to achieve victory - contrary to CPU's and programs, humans just don't have precise enough reflexes. (Didn't I tell you not to take those Scientology lessons? That stuff messes with your mind! - 2Lions)
In terms of presentation and overall quality of the game, TRON 2.0 is admirable. A decent story; well-told and fitted excellently into a video game; beautiful artwork and level design are all essential parts of a good game, and TRON 2.0 has them all. There are numerous aspects of the game that cling strongly to the Tron world, so a lot of gamers may find the experience frustrating due to a lack of common action FPS gameplay elements. Those of you willing to try something fresh and unique will surely appreciate TRON 2.0 for its quality design and excellent narrative that deserves the attention of every true sci-fi fan.
8.4 Very Good
Finally an original idea well exploited in a video game. Graphics, sound, music, and plot. Good AI. An excellent depiction of the old Tron universe - a must have for Tron fans;
Simplistic puzzles. Lack of textures on character models. Lightcycle races are a bit too tricky. Both single-player and multiplayer modes probably won't keep you hooked for long if you are not a fan of this unique sci-fi world.
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